International Spirits Challenge 2021 announces whisky results

The International Spirits Challenge 2021 has awarded 11 double gold medals to the finest Scotch whiskies in the world.

It was a strong showing for Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard, which secured double golds for Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute, Royal Salute 21 Signature Blend, Aberlour 16, Aberlour 18 and Chivas Regal Ultis.

There were also three double golds for William Grant & Sons: Glenfiddich Amontillado Sherry Cask Finish, Glenfiddich Gran Cortes XXII and The Balvenie 30. The others went to Johnnie Walker Double Black, Royal Brackla 21, William Peel Double Maturation and Lauder’s 25.

Our expert panel of judges handed out the prestigious awards after a rigorous blind tasting process led by category chairman Richard Paterson.

They also awarded 237 gold medals, 123 silver medals and eight bronzes.

There were also three double gold medals in the Irish whiskey category, along with 34 golds, 34 silvers and four bronze medals. The double golds went to Pernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers, for Jameson Black Barrel, Redbreast 21 and Redbreast 27.

One Japanese whisky, Suntory Hibiki 21, earned a double gold medal after impressing the judges, and there were 25 gold medals, 33 silvers and six bronzes. In the American whiskey category, judges awarded 59 gold medals, 66 silvers and two bronze medals.

Paterson (pictured) said: “Since March 2020 the pandemic has certainly had a profound affect on all of our lives. Perhaps, for the very first time the things we previously took for granted, even the smallest of things have made us realise and appreciate how really special they were.

“Understandably, the International Spirit’s Challenge has not been immune to this phenomenon. Lockdowns, cut backs, distancing and self-isolating measures has been the order of the day. Yet, there is a breath of fresh air, a renewed confidence has begun to slowly emerge reflecting an increase of 13% in this year’s entries. This indeed is a step in the right direction. The spirit’s world has not stood back, recognition for the distillers and producers still remains of paramount importance to many.

“The competition in the market, still remains fierce. Every year the judges are faced with a number of highly competitive challenges, this year has been no exception. However as much as the quality of the various spirits met most of the judge’s expectations, many noted there was a change in style, a new direction. A new era that was unfolding.

“Though these changes were small - there was a definite difference recognised in most of the spirit categories. Now this could be  attributed to many things – new distilleries entering the market for the first time, stock issues, different distillation practices, diverse cask seasoning and more. Although we are still experiencing unusual times when it comes to judging spirits, they certainly are exciting times when we can have the privilege of seeing the whole picture, the complete package of every single sample submitted. It such a privilege and an honour.

“This year, we may have noted some changes but rest assured the quality was still there particularly when the results showed an increase in both the gold and silver nominations.”